The GBTA Foundation released its latest quarterly U.S. business travel forecast today and trip volume is on the rise. While we lowered our forecast for business travel spending from last quarter because the costs of travel are falling and are now expecting 3.1 percent spending growth to $295.7 billion, we increased the forecast for person-trip volume forecasting 492.1 million trips in 2015.
Here are five key takeaways from this quarter’s forecast:
- The expected increase in U.S. business travel volume is an excellent indicator of how the overall domestic economy is faring – every sector and consumer spending are performing better than we have seen since 2009.
- A healthier domestic economy and a stronger U.S. dollar are major factors driving companies to put more travelers on the road not only because they can afford to, but because businesses continue to see a strong return on their business travel investment.
- Plummeting oil prices are putting downward pressure on travel price inflation meaning the cost of air travel, ground transportation and rental cars are all expected to moderate in 2015. This is the key factor behind lowering our total business travel spending growth in this forecast.
- Gains in business travel in 2014 suggest strong job growth ahead. Job gains in the first three months of this year have been paced by the business services, health care and transportation industries – all examples of sectors that use travel relatively intensively.
- By the numbers: Total domestic business travel spending is expected to grow 2.9 percent this year followed by 6 percent in 2016. International outbound travel spend is more volatile thanks to the shaky global economy, but is still expected to grow 5 percent in 2015 and 6.9 percent in 2016. After falling in 2014, group-trip volume is expected to grow 1.6 percent this year with spend advancing 3.1 percent, and individual-trip volume is expected to gain 1.7 percent on its way to 304 million person-trips and $131 billion in spending in 2015.